The City That Never Sleeps – aka New York – is aptly named. It's one of the most fast-paced bustling metropolitans in the world, and it's brimming with endless opportunities and things to do. Where to start? Well, you probably won't be able to cover all the galleries, museums, restaurants, hidden gems, the list goes on, in one visit, so it's best to prioritise your interests – and you can always return, again and again. Here's a quick guide to the Big Apple from a local himself with over 20 years of familiarity. Hotel Manager Jeroen Werdmölder of Mandarin Oriental, New York shares his top five features, from off-broadway shows to eating your way through the best haunts.
This article is also available to read in Chinese (HK).
1) Walk Anywhere And Everywhere
One can really get to know a city by walking its streets and New York City is one of the best cities to explore by foot. For instance, just out of the hotel, walking East will take you to Central Park in less than one minute. If you walk North, you’ll be in the Upper West Side neighbourhood where the Lincoln Center is and in quiet streets, see beautiful residential brownstones. If you walk South, you’ll be in the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood known for its restaurants and bars, as well as the Broadway Theater District to enjoy shows. There are so many more neighbourhoods in New York and each one of them has its own charm.
2) Watch Performances And Shows
From musicals, plays, and live performances, New York City has so much to offer. There are free stage performances in Central Park in the summer called Shakespeare in the Park held in the open-air Delacorte Theater. Lincoln Center also offers free and ticketed performances ranging from music, dance, and opera—and I must say, watching the New York Philharmonic live is truly breathtaking. Of course, seeing a Broadway or off-Broadway show should be on everyone’s NYC travel list at least once. There are so many shows to choose from.
3) Appreciate The Arts
There is a wealth of world-class museums and cultural institutions in New York City, so much so that it even has what is called the Museum Mile, which encompasses a stretch of museums on Fifth Avenue. It includes The Metropolitan Museum of Art or locally called The Met, which is the largest art museum in the USA with over two million works. Must-sees for me? The works by fellow Dutch, Vincent van Gogh, and the jaw-dropping Temple of Dendur.
4) Explore The Great Outdoors
When talking about the outdoors in NYC, Central Park must be on the list. The iconic park has 843 acres and you can do just about anything there – from walking, running, biking, hiking, boat riding, kayaking, picnicking, and more. There are various areas in the park that would be great to explore such as the Bethesda Terrace, Strawberry Fields, The Ramble, Shakespeare Garden and Hallett Nature Sanctuary. I can go on and on just about Central Park.
Beyond Central Park, there are other fun outdoor spots in New York. Chelsea Piers is Manhattan’s most popular sports and recreational facility, and I would recommend hitting golf balls on the driving range, which is right off the Hudson River no less – allowing you to be active and have amazing water views at the same time. Little Island is also a great space along the Hudson River with almost three acres of space. They just opened in 2021 and it offers family-friendly programmes. The High Line is also a cool spot to visit as it’s almost 1.5 miles long of an elevated linear park that used to be a railroad track.
5) Travel The World One Plate At A Time
From authentic Korean barbecue in K-Town and out-of-this-world dim sum in Chinatown, to must-try curries and chutneys in Little India and exquisite pasta and cannolis in Little Italy, New York City is really the ultimate food paradise! Chinatown and Little Italy, my personal favourites in terms of the city’s culinary areas, really does transport you to Beijing or Rome. I get to travel to these places with every bite.
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